This past weekend I co-presented on developing classroom connections. It made me think about how remarkable those connections have been.
Over a year ago I sat alone at a table, awestruck in some ways with the great leaders filling the room at EdCamp Leader in Philadelphia. By chance, or fate, a pair of gentleman sat at the table with me. I had no idea I would be meeting someone who would become a good mentor and friend. Nor did I know that sitting at a table with Doug Timm and Tom Gavin would eventually lead me to Delaware’s Colonial Tech Conference, but the relationship I have developed with Doug is one I can’t imagine being without.
Last December I was thinking about how I could share a larger world with my class. I was also looking for a new way to teach them about various holidays around the world. Cue Rosy Burke and her class’s Holiday’s Around the World project. Throughout the rest of the year we continued to develop a connection between our classes and one another. Rosy is an amazing educator and through her own connections, she moved half way across the country to work at Doug’s school in Delaware.
In less than a year I made two very good friends, and those connections converged in Delaware this weekend. It was an amazing day filled with learning, fun, and friendships.
Here are some simple take aways:
- Get your students creating content. It doesn’t matter what medium you use, and it doesn’t matter where you choose to share it.
2. You have more impact on people than you know. I said this many times on Saturday, and it could not be more true. When Rosy and I first connected our classes, I had no idea how much her kids cared for mine. I also didn’t know (until she told me later) that our interaction gave her the motivation and confidence to reach out to even more classrooms with her kids.
3. Richard Byrne is the real deal. Not only was he really friendly and personable, but he brought great resources and he walked the walk. The most important messages I took from him included: More people will experience your students’ content if they create a short video than if they write a paper, and its important to share your work, (he has some resources that have been downloaded over 100,000 times, for free).
4. Colonial School District has some incredible things happening. I wasn’t able to get down for the Friday tour, but through talking with educators from the district and seeing what they are trying to do, it is extremely impressive.
5. There is nothing more amazing than getting intelligent, passionate educators sitting around a table together. The conversations I had while spending time with Rosy, Doug, Justin Schleider, Sarah Thomas, Nicholas Endlich, and Amanda Rogers (who came all the way from Texas and is AWESOME) were some of the most incredible and memorable experiences I will take with me.
The #techcsd conference was a model for any district or local area looking to start building and sharing out the positive learning that educators can, and will do. I passed on two larger conferences to go there, and I am better for having done so. I look forward to continuing with my old connections, and building on some of the new ones that I made over the course of the day.
We can all be better. How we grow and how we learn with others is an important part of who we are, and where we will go in our futures. This weekend went a long way to making me a better educator.